About the Symphony

Photo By Stefan Cohen


The Santa Cruz Symphony's mission is to inspire, educate and engage through artistic excellence, distinctive musical performances and varied activities that celebrate and enhance the cultural vibrancy of our community.


Leading through creativity and excellence, our vision is to be a cornerstone of the performing arts in the Greater Monterey Bay and San Francisco Bay Areas, inspiring our community to embrace the importance of music in our lives through a variety of shared musical experiences and artistic excellence.

Our Maestro

Music Director of the Santa Cruz Symphony, Daniel Stewart is the recipient of the 2010 Aspen Music Festival's James Conlon Conducting Prize. Maestro Stewart has conducted orchestras including: the Saint Louis Symphony, the New World Symphony, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Hessischer Rundfunk Orchester, and the Frankfurt Opern und Museumschaft Orchestra. In the fall of 2012 he was appointed by James Levine as Conductor with the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.

Our Orchestra

Our musicians are among the finest in the Greater Monterey Bay and San Francisco Bay Areas. We are proud to showcase world-renowned soloists at our concerts, including Van Cliburn and Klein Competition winners, along with many vocalists from the Metropolitan Opera. We perform ten classical concerts in our regular season from October to May at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium and the Henry J. Mello Center for the Performing Arts in Watsonville. During each season we also perform special benefit concerts and a reduced-admission Family Concert. Additionally, we demonstrate our commitment to education each year with Classroom Visits from our musicians, and our in-class music listening program, Classical Music Classrooms. Our free school-trip concerts reach over 4,000 elementary students throughout Santa Cruz County each year.

Our Board & Administration

Our Values

  • Musicianship

    We celebrate our musician’s singular interpretive contributions, their technical skills and discipline, and their scholarship of styles and contexts.

  • Creativity

    We go beyond traditional offerings, utilizing the vibrant artistic and modern spirit of our region.

  • Diversity

    We explore and embrace the full spectrum of human experience, emotion and our collective aspirations through music.

  • Excellence

    We are committed to achieving the highest artistic and professional standards, in our art and operations.

  • Accessibility

    We invite and welcome all, presenting a sophisticated art form in a manner that anyone can enjoy.

  • Collaboration

    We engage both traditional and unconventional partners in our work, both in the music and behind the scenes.

  • Cooperation

    We work as a team, leveraging one another’s strengths and expertise, respecting the unique contributions each person makes.

  • Education

    We promote and foster lifelong appreciation and understanding of music’s beauty, complexity and power to transform lives.

Our History

The Santa Cruz Symphony was founded in 1958 when a small group of musicians dedicated themselves to the creation of a symphony orchestra for Santa Cruz. Led by violinist Major Matilda Dedrick—along with Dave Owen, Jim and Jo Rogers, Curt Bowman and Norman Walters—it seemed like a small enough task at the time.

They started by placing an ad in the Santa Cruz Sentinel calling for prospective orchestra members. Thirty-eight musicians showed up at the organizational meeting on March 10, 1958. The group quickly grew to 70. After just ten rehearsal dates, with Detlev Anders of the San Francisco Symphony leading, the orchestra held its first concert on May 27. They played to an enthusiastic Civic Auditorium crowd of 2000. The inaugural performance received a standing ovation halfway through the program. The enthusiastic audience made cash donations on their way out of the auditorium.

Since those early beginnings, the organization has grown to become one of the finest orchestras of its size in California, earning frequent critical acclaim.

For more information on the Symphony's history, visit the Santa Cruz Symphony's Wikipedia page.

Origins Photo Origins Photo Origins Photo Origins Photo

Symphony Partners

  • Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony

    Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony

    Since 1966, the Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony has provided children and young adults in Santa Cruz County and the surrounding communities with a unique opportunity to learn and perform exciting and challenging classical music with the area's only training orchestra of pre-professional caliber.

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  • Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus

    Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus

    The Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus enjoys a stellar reputation at home in the Monterey Bay Area of California, as well as internationally. Under the direction of Cheryl Anderson, the Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus has toured throughout the finest concert halls in the United States and Europe.

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  • Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre Photo By Lynne Owen

    Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre

    Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to give dancers and choreographers an opportunity to express their talents and to cultivate ballet excellence within the Santa Cruz community.

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  • Kuumbwa Jazz Honor Band

    Kuumbwa Jazz Honor Band

    Led by Director Dillon Baiocchi and Ensemble Adviser, Eddie Mendenhall, the Kuumbwa Jazz Honor Band is an all-star ensemble of high school musicians from the Santa Cruz and surrounding areas.

    Learn More